|How to Get a Job in Advertising (It Ain't Easy)
By: Brian Keller
Answer: The Headhunter.
Advertising “headhunters” help get jobs for people. They collect “portfolios” (also called books; these are mostly online, sometimes physical) of work done by advertising people and arrange interviews, etc. They usually have strong relationships with a number of different ad agencies and represent talent to the agencies. They represent you throughout the process. They are savvy, charming, and smart. Being around a headhunter is like being around your Granddad or Grandma but 50 years younger, childless, and in Armani or “Dolce.” They also, like Grandma or Granddad, listen intermittently.
Advertising people who have jobs or don’t have jobs speak with the headhunters in hopes of replacing the jobs they have just lost; or in the case of the employed, of getting a new job. When a job is right the headhunter “sends” the book of the employed or jobless person to a person (at the agency) who has a job like Creative Director, Group Head, etc. They don’t send to Associate Creative Directors. ACDs are usually in charge of themselves and don’t have the power to hire. Sometimes you interview with an ACD, and their job is to be enthusiastic while looking disinterested.
When successful, headhunters get you to a person who has a job and he or she gives the person (you), who wants a job, a job. The “headhunter” collects a fee. All are happy. There is a caveat. You need to get that job. If you don’t get that job, even though the “headhunter” has shown you a list of great jobs you would be great for, you will never hear back from that headhunter.
Headhunters also break bad news to you in nice ways:
Jeni-Lee: “Malcolm, Marcus Bailey Worldwide is unbelievably impressed.”
Malcolm: “I thought I nailed it. Was it my win at Cristal Festival Europe?”
Jeni-Lee: “No Malcolm, that wasn’t it. They love your whole body of work and they’re keeping your resume, and are keeping your link active for six-months! They decided they’re going to pass, for now.”
Malcolm: “Six months...and at this time they’re going to pass. Just right now, right? They may not pass in six months if…”
Jeni-Lee: "That’s right, Malcolm, if that new business lands. You’re on a short list."
Malcolm: "That’s unbelievable! I can wait six months to get that new liver I’m shopping for on eBay. Should I call about some other posts that may be appropriate?"
Jeni-Lee: "Call Portia, she’s in charge of talking to 'people later.' She’s also in charge of our 'They’re Going To Pass' division.”
NOTE: Most assistants usually have names like Portia, Courtney, Lysistrada, and Marlow. All males are named Evan. The job of these folks is not to have heard of you.
Malcolm: “Hi, Portia, I called as I had spoken to Jeni-Lee a few months back about a spot at Marcus Bailey Worldwide. Do you have any news or new opportunities”
Portia: "You spoke to Jeni-Lee? Your name?"
Portia: "Did they pass on you? Your name?"
Malcolm: "Malcolm. Yes."
Portia: “Who? They passed, yes?”
Malcolm: “Malcolm. Yes, they passed.”
Portia: “They passed. Do you have 'Pharma'?”
Portia: “That’s great. I’ll put you in.”
Malcolm: “Great, to whom?”
Portia: "I’ll talk to Jeni-Lee; she’s having a cleanse with her sister Dakota, someone who has Pharma. ”
Malcolm: “Thanks, Portia.”
NOTE: They always ask if you have “Pharma” to make you think a job is at hand. No one has “Pharma,” so everyone lies. They don’t have “Pharma” either but they tell their clients (the “Pharma” people) that they have “Pharma" to keep everyone’s hopes up. There are two people in this country who have “Pharma.” They are busy. No one else has “Pharma.”
As soon as you get a job, your headhunter will call to help you look for another job .
If you have a job, it’s still best to have a “headhunter” so you can leave that job for a better job, as it’s easier for a headhunter to get you a job when you already have one. Headhunters like to get people jobs and if you are successful they will usually call you after they’ve helped you get a job and talk to you about better jobs. Be warned; if you don’t return his/her calls while you have a job that you like and don’t want to leave, they won’t talk to you when you don’t have a job. You need to be looking for a job when you have a job. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a job and you have a headhunter in your corner so that you can get a job when you don’t* have one at some point.
*Don’t worry. You won’t have job at some point.
It’s nutshell time:
It’s not easy to get a “headhunter” to pay any attention to you when you don’t have a job. While you have that job, make sure that you can get a job by remembering the protocol of keeping a headhunter interested, or you’re doomed unless you have Pharma. If you have Pharma, you are King/Queen of the world.
Next week: Creative Services.
Brian Keller is a Creative Director/Copywriter. Brian likes being a Creative Director as he can always blame someone who is not him. Brian is strategic and thoughtful. He graduated from the University of Maryland, went to graduate school at Tisch School of the Arts (NYU - Cinema Studies), and attends the University of Baltimore School of Law. Find him online here.
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